Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, the second book in the Red Queen series, tells the story of Mare Barrow: a girl who straddles the divide that is tearing her country apart. She bears the strange ability to conjure and control lightning, an ability akin to the Silver-blooded nobility, but her blood is red like the common people beside whom she was raised. After a betrayal from someone she trusted most (I won’t say who because spoilers suck), Mare is on the run with the Scarlet Guard, who seek to start a rebellion and close the divide between Silver and Red. Charged with seeking out and saving those like her, red-blooded with Silver abilities, Mare scours the nation with her merry band of thieves, cast-down captains, and a dethroned prince.
What I loved about this book was that it improved upon the first book in the series (you can read my review of Red Queen here). While I thoroughly enjoyed Red Queen, I knew it would be difficult to surpass. However uncharacteristic to such a trilogy, Glass Sword did the almost impossible: it matched, if not excelled beyond, the first book in the series.
What made this book so remarkable for me was that Aveyard showed how the characters suffered from acts of rebellion and bloodshed, especially the protagonist Mare. She has her moments of strength, of weakness, of certainty and doubt. She questions herself, asks if the end is worth the means. She is scared of how she has changed and how she will continue to change. There was not a static character in sight and Mare was a prime example.
Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed was Aveyard’s writing itself. Her descriptions are unique and accurate, dripping with phrases that sound more like poetry than prose. She plays with words in Glass Sword, exploiting double meanings and foreshadowing like the best of them. Her diction is purposeful. No letter goes to waste; every word packs a punch.
The plot flowed and was interesting, but the pacing was a little funky. I felt like we were constantly seesawing in between slow motion and fast forward: thirty minutes would last for chapters and an entire month would be covered in little more than a paragraph. Maybe this was a function of Mare’s perceptions: the moments that stuck with her were going to stick with us, the readers, and Aveyard made sure of that.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. While it was not my favorite novel in the world, it was far from my least favorite and I would certainly recommend it to other readers. I gave Glass Sword 4/5 stars on Goodreads and cannot wait to pick up King’s Cage, the next book in the series.